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More Onondaga County residents may need additional assistance paying energy bills this winter

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Isabel Flores
Syracuse Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens is joined by, left to right, Peace Inc.'s Sally Ward, Sen. Rachel May, Sen. John Mannion, US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Onondaga County legislators Linda Ervin, Peggy Chase and Mary Kuhn (outside of frame).

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made a stop in Syracuse Friday to highlight funding she secured for a home heating assistance program ahead of what’s likely to be a more challenging winter for some residents to pay their bills. She says she fought to secure about $1 billion in emergency funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. Roughly $60 million will go to New Yorkers. At the Peace Inc. Eastside Family Resource Center, she said with rising costs, it’s getting harder to balance finances.

Locally, they estimate that Central New York rates should go up by 39 percent. That is a lot of money that our seniors, that our families cannot afford. And when you are low-income or on fixed income, you have to make tough decisions between whether you are gonna heat your home, buy your groceries, pay for your medicines, and those are horrible choices that families and individuals shouldn’t have to make.”

Onondaga County households received more than $26 million through LIHEAP last winter. PEACE Inc.’s Director of Energy and Housing Services Sally Ward says the funding is crucial to the program’s mission to help those who need assistance with paying bills to stay warm.

HEAP provides 66 percent of our funding of our budget so for program year 22, our HEAP dollars is 1.7 million dollars. And we couple that with DOE’s funds and we go into homes and make them more energy efficient. We insulate them, we airseal, we give them new high efficient furnaces. And what that does in effect is make the HEAP dollars go a lot further."

Residents can apply for LIHEAP using the Onondaga County social services website at

Isabel Flores is a graduate student studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. School of Public Communications, expected to graduate in May of 2023. As a multimedia reporter, she helps to present as well as produce audio and digital content for WAER. In her free time, Isabel enjoys working out and listening to all genres of music.
Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at